Cyclone Shaheen hits Oman with ferocious winds, killing four

·2 min read
Cyclone Shaheen makes landfall in Muscat, Oman

DUBAI (Reuters) -Tropical Cyclone Shaheen killed four people as it slammed into Oman on Sunday with ferocious winds and heavy rain, flooding streets, prompting evacuations from coastal areas and delaying flights to and from the capital, Muscat.

As the cyclone approached, a child who had been swept away by water was found dead, the state news agency said, and another missing person was also found dead. Two Asian workers were killed when a hill collapsed on their housing area in an industrial zone, the state news agency reported.

When its eye crossed land, the cyclone was carrying winds of between 120 and 150 km per hour (75-93 mph), Omani authorities said. It was throwing up waves of up to 10 metres (32 feet).

Video footage from Omani broadcasters showed vehicles submerged as people tried to make their way through muddy brown floodwater.

Part of the eyewall of the storm, where the most severe weather occurs, had entered Al Batinah South governorate, the state news agency said. The eye also entered between the states of Musanah and Suwaiq.

Up to 500 cm (20 inches) of rain was expected in some areas, raising the risk of flash floods.

Cyclones steadily lose their power over land and Shaheen was downgraded to a tropical storm after it cleared the ocean, the meteorology service said on Twitter.

The national emergency committee said the power supply would be cut in al-Qurm, east of the capital, to avoid accidents. More than 2,700 people were put up in emergency shelters.

Most of the oil-exporting country's five million people live in and around Muscat. Authorities said roads in the capital would be open only to vehicles on emergency and humanitarian work until the storm dies down.

A wooden ship sank at Sultan Qaboos Port and its crew was rescued, the National Committee for Emergency Management said on Twitter.

PRECAUTIONS IN UAE, SAUDI ARABIA

In the United Arab Emirates, authorities said precautionary measures were being taken. Police were moving to ensure safety with patrols near beaches and valleys where torrential rains were expected.

Government and private sector employees in the city of Al Ain on the border with Oman had been urged to work remotely on Monday and authorities called on residents to avoid leaving home except for emergencies, the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said.

"Authorities are working proactively around the clock to evaluate residential units in expected affected areas and transport families to safe locations until it is safe to return," it said.

Saudi Arabia's civil defence authorities called for caution in several regions from Monday to Friday in expectation of high winds and possible flooding, the state news agency reported.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Nadine Awadalla, Enas Alashray, Ahmed Elhamy, Nayera Abdallah and Omar FahmyWriting by Nadine Awadalla and Michael GeorgyEditing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Philippa Fletcher, Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry)

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